Wednesday, May 13, 2009

30 Pho'king Spring Rolls at Pho 87 in Chinatown

Pho 87
1019 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 227-0758

Just a short bike trip or a seemingly even more brief car ride away from my house in Los Angeles is Chinatown, and this stray little Vietnamese restaurant, Pho 87.

Pho 87 is not fancy, and looks like it has been there for a gazillion years. The sign is broken, and

the koi pond inside the restaurant can almost barely even be called decorative. But it is spotlessly clean. The main dining area is filled with people eating at the plastic covered tables, even as early as 5:30, all turned toward a postage stamp sized archaic TV tuned to soccer. There are condiments on every table. The one in the back is clearly not Sriracha, they must fill the empties with hoisin or fish sauce for use on one's soup.

April 29th. It has been awhile since I have had the mental energy for blogging. Even this feels like a half hearted attempt, sandwiched between finding something to wear for work that is clean and somewhat professional and medicating my Great Dane within an inch of her life.

April 29th The Furious Seasons have band practice chez moi, and we decide to feed them with spring rolls and pho. D calls and asks for 10 orders of spring rolls. They repeat several times. I remember being in a bit of a haze, staring off into the distance in my sweaty tennis clothes, considering a shower and a cocktail. "10 order? You want 10 orders?" There will be 5 of us in the house and ten orders will be 2 each, plus pho to share. Sounds right. Wrong! Three spring rolls in each order! THIRTY spring rolls.

They came out smiling with a giant caterers tray. Each spring roll at Pho 87 is about as big as a Taco Bell burrito. We laughed. The joke was on D. Someone had to make a trip to the ATM. And Vietnamese spring rolls are a dish best served fresh. R took all but 4 of the leftovers with him to the club after band practice and shared them with his mates. He either has a lot of mates, or hopefully they were hungry.

They are beautiful. Each one is a meal, a light one, for me anyway.

Filled with the typical Vietnamese fresh ingredients of lettuce, rice vermicelli, cilantro, pork and shrimp wrapped in slightly moist rice paper. All these bright savory ingredients are then dipped into nu'roc cham. Nu'roc cham is Vietnamese dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water, and the sauce at Pho 87 also has a fair amount of peanuts. Very sweet, very delicious. I wouldn't mind a little more heat, must remember to buy a bottle of Sriricha for my house.

We also asked for a couple orders of pho, for good measure. I wanted to try the rare beef. To go, it comes in a small plastic bag in the top of a box filled with rice vermicelli, onions, and herbs.

I found the beef to be very lean, and void of sinewy bits. High quality, IMO. Very easy to eat from the bowl with just a spoon, no knife needed.

One serving is way too much food for me, this is more than enough for two people if you include one spring roll each as well.

Into my bowl I put first the vermicelli, then slices of beef, fish sauce, onions, mint and jalapeno.

Next, I pour the flavorful very hot broth over the dryish ingredients, and it ever so slightly cooks the raw beef. Genius.

This was wonderful. Even on a warm spring day, the heat and the flavors were delightful. I admit to being a pho newb. I adore Vietnamese food, bahn mi especially. My friends in SF all rave about pho on cold, wet and rainy days. Now I know it has an application here in sunny Southern California, even in warm weather, because there is just nothing heavy about this dish.

And I also know it can be minutes away, 3 if by car 10 if by bike.


Kristine G said...

AHA! Now the story of the 30 spring rolls unfolds. :) Love the photos!

Aaron said...

I feel like pho isn't a good party food. Too many bowls to keep track of. Though spring rolls are perfect.

I go to Chinatown every Sunday, though I'm ready to call it half Vietnamtown.

Active Foodie said...

I'm headed to Pho 87 today. After your story I think I have to get a spring roll :) Can't wait!